It is not uncommon for business organizations to use training metric to assess the effectiveness of their training and personnel development programs.
Training is typically defined as the process of acquiring new skills, competencies and knowledge for the purpose of increasing ones productivity. Today, training is widely-recognized as one of the major benefits that employees look forward to experiencing. After all, training programs are meant to maintain, update and upgrade ones skills throughout ones employment. In many occupations, these training programs are also referred to as professional development programs.
How do managers determine if their existing training programs are effective based on pre-determined objectives? This is where metrics come in. Metrics are actually measures or standards that are used to quantify something. Relevant metrics need to be identified by managers so that they would be able to use these during evaluation. Donald Kirkpatrick introduced the four-level training evaluation model back in 1994. This model consists of four levels with the preceding level serving as basis for the next evaluation level.
The first level in the Kirkpatrick model measures the reactions of training program participants. At this level, managers determine the perceptions of participants toward the training program they are joining. Kirkpatrick stressed that this evaluation level is crucial for the improvement of any training endeavor because it is at this stage that satisfaction level is determined. Moreover, the reaction level determines whether learning is obtained. Learning, incidentally, makes up the second level of this training assessment method.
In this level, the amount of learning gained by a participant is measured. Learning refers to the absorption of new skills, competencies, or knowledge gained from training content. Pretest (test done before the training) and post test (test done after training) are conducted in order to measure learning. The third level of the Kirkpatrick model is the transfer level. It is at this level that participants change their behavior in response to what they learn from their training program. It is during the transfer level that managers can see how newly acquired skills or competencies have been applied in the working environment of participants.
For many human resource managers, this level determines the most accurate assessment of the effectiveness of training programs. Finally, the fourth level is consists of the assessment of training according to how they contribute to business results. It is at this level that company executives and managers are able to relate overall organizational success to training programs.
The Kirkpatrick model of training assessment has been used by many HR practitioners in improving their existing training and development programs. Other relevant training metric are sometimes integrated into this assessment method in order to obtain a more accurate training evaluation. In terms of long-term evaluation, common methods used include post-training surveys, regular coaching, needs assessment, metrics evaluation and interviews with trainers and training managers. These assessments need to be conducted not only by training facilitators and managers but also senior and line management. Nevertheless, it should be realized that training should mutually benefit employees as well as employers.